Outdoor LED Lighting and Smart Technology

Polar Ray Admin

The advances in outdoor lighting has taken steps in leaps and bounds since the introduction of LED lighting. Not only are there excellent energy/money savings to be had when installing LED lighting, there are numerous options that older lighting technologies could never deliver. Features such as tunable architectural lighting, street lights with surveillance features, and smart systems which will be part of the connected network on the Internet of Things (IoT) are all part of the innovations in the lighting field which were either not possible at all or not so easily feasible without LED lighting. With the prospect of smart-city technology being possible, the fact that LED lighting has evolved how and when it has fits right into the whole ‘connected’ scheme of things in a huge way. Not only is the LED energy savings potential enormous, the systems will help increase community safety and the architectural lighting, in fact all the lighting, will be able to be optioned to be tuned for each individual application simply due to the nature of LED technology.

In a couple ventures involving smart LED outdoor lighting in large cities, GE began its ‘Intelligent Cities’ programs in San Diego, CA and Jacksonville, FL. They are part of initial smart-city infrastructure plans in which LED street lights are fitted with sensors and networked with other smart-controls to not only regulate the lighting but to detect traffic and environmental conditions and route planning, for example. It is the GE software, Predix, along with their special sensors used in the projects that allows for the regulation and detection that occurs.

The developments in San Diego, which was the first city to partner with GE and its Intelligent City program, are groundbreaking and have begun to prove that the smart city of the future is well within reach. The first stage of the advancements started in 2014, when San Diego installed over 3,000 LED street lights made by GE. That venture was done in an effort to reduce energy and maintenance costs by an estimated $250,000 annually. That estimate sounded nice but was incorrect; the actual savings in maintenance and energy are more than $350,000 per year. All thanks to the individual street light’s smart metering capabilities. But in concert with all that smart lighting and the connected money savings, the street lights also are part of the smart technology which assists with traffic, parking, and route information in the city’s urban core.

The smart LED street lights which GE has developed are part of a smart-city system that has evolved into much more than a way to control lights. Their Intelligent City platform utilizes these LED roadway lights which use sensors, transmitters and microprocessors working together as high-performance data grids which have the capability to transmit data and provide insight into area environments in real time. If a smart urban communication system of ‘things’ were to be developed separately, the cost and implementation would be outrageous. However, with the smart technology devices integrated into street lights, whose poles are perfect for the setup, generally placed at about 150 feet apart, adding sensors, cameras, and other related technology to send data to central computing stations for analysis is a relatively easy application. In addition, since each controller on every light is a router to the other controllers on the other lights, the network distances between poles could actually be expanded to the neighborhood of 1000 feet and still be able to communicate.

 The developments in San Diego, Jacksonville and numerous cities around the world definitely has other cities listening and strongly pushing for funding and public approval of money expected to be spent in an effort to utilize the energy savings and the conveniences afforded by LED lighting and the smart technology that is available. Just the fact that LED technology is a proven way to save energy is enough to have most cities interested, but add to that the impact the smart lighting and the connected smart technology can have on other issues which can make communities more livable and safe.

There are many opportunities to add to the capabilities of the LED street lights and the connected abilities. Things such as being able to count the number of pedestrians at crosswalks, deploy emergency vehicles and maintenance crews more immediately, and even such things as real time monitoring of weather and environmental issues such as pollen count in the immediate area. The city of Los Angeles has considered the flashing of LED streetlights to help guide emergency vehicles to their destination. There is also the ability to create a wireless metro internet service by utilizing the LED poles and the smart technology they can contain. In an exclusive agreement between GE and SST, Inc., the developers of ShotSpotter, cities will be able to have a system that will be embedded into GE’s intelligent LED street lights which will detect gunshots. Results of the detections are broadcast to all necessary authorities through every communication method and device, noting precise location, rounds fired and other pertinent information that is valuable to first responders who will be able to arrive on the scene in a shorter span of time to more efficiently conduct potential life-saving operations, collect evidence and apprehend offenders.

The LED lighting and associated control systems for smart-city advancements is in its infancy but is growing very quickly around the world. The ability of LED lighting to be tuned for so many different applications and the control systems which can be employed make the outdoor LED lighting solutions a step that all cities can benefit from. Since the LED system controls are accomplished with software they will never become obsolete, because as needs change and technology advances, the software can simply be updated.

As always, if you have questions in regard to any of your lighting projects, please feel free to call Polar-Ray at 303-494-5773 to speak with a lighting consultant. Thank you for perusing our web site.